I have been reading the leaflet put out by six of the candidates for election to the Parish Council. I must say that this is a welcome addition to the debate and it is difficult not to agree with much of what they say. You have to judge whether the people saying good things are the best people to put them into effect.
I do find Alan Shipp’s reference to ‘a neighbouring parish council’ somewhat enigmatic. He doesn’t name the parish so it is difficult to refute what he says, but if he means Milton then we have to remember that the Recreation Facilities there are not managed by the Parish Council but by an independent Charity. Thus comparing Waterbeach’s accounts with Milton’s is a bit like comparing apples with oranges. Our Grounds Staff are doing an excellent job and it is clear from last year’s accounts and from financial reports on the Parish Council website that they are beginning to make real inroads into many of the historic costs associated with our open spaces.
I very much agree with those who say we must listen to representations from the public and treat them with respect. I am pleased to see that the new Parish Clerk seems to be working very hard to achieve this and I am sure that things will improve in the future.
I have just been browsing through the responses to the original South Cambridgeshire Issues and Options Report where the new town proposals first came to light. Waterbeach Parish Council made extensive representations which you can read at http://bit.ly/1grafJq but I also wanted to see if any of the candidates for the Parish Council election commented and, if so, what they said.
There seems to be some idea going around that the Parish Council doesn’t spend its money effectively. As Chair of the Finance Committee for the past few years, I really want to counter those suggestions and show how we have kept our spending down while continuing to provide a service to you, our parishioners.
One comparison is with the Council Tax charge for Band D properties. In this current year, the Parish Council component of this in Waterbeach is £83.40. This is, of course, only a very small proportion of the total bill which, when you include the County Council, The District Council and the Police and Fire Authorities comes to £1,573.81.
If you compare our Council Tax charge with some of our neighbouring parishes then ours is less than Cottenham, Histon, Impington and Horningsea but more than Milton, Landbeach and Fen Ditton. In that group, the highest figure is for Cottenham at £106.38 and the lowest is Landbeach at £52.23.
Over the last four years, the Council increased its total precept (the amount that we receive from our residents to cover spending) from £134,160 in 2011-2012 to £134,422 in 2014-2015, an increase of 0.2%. Over the previous four years, the precept increased from £101,000 to £134,160, an increase of 33%.
I believe that this shows that over the last four years we have set a real example of spending your money carefully and economically.
Once the new pavilion had been built on the Recreation Ground, the Parish Council had to decide what to do about the Old Pavilion.
Back in 2005 it was agreed to let WAY, the Youth organisation, use it and a small wooden pavilion was provided for the Bowls Club. However, it was always felt that this use of the Old Pavilion was temporary and that WAY needed purpose-built accommodation.
Once Tillage Hall had been built, financed to some extent by money intended for youth work, the Old Pavilion again became redundant and the decision was made in 2012 to convert it into purpose built offices for the Parish Council. The work was agreed in June of that year and was funded using money that had been set aside some years ago and a loan at a very low rate of interest from the Public Works Loan Board.
Most of the neighbouring villages of any size have their own Parish Offices. The Council managed for many years operating from the homes of our Clerks and latterly we were paying rent for a portable building in Mr. and Mrs. Smart’s yard. We now have a modern, purpose-built office which is easily accessible to residents and is situated on the Recreation Ground where much of the activity of the Council takes place. It is not just for the use of Councillors, but is a place where parishioners can come to see planning applications and discuss matters with the staff. It is also a place where meetings can be held both of the full Council and of its committees. I believe it is an asset for our village and helps the Council to work more efficiently in serving the community.
One of the things that keeps coming up from residents of Old Cambridge Road and the new development of Glebe Road and the roads off it is the difficulty for drivers coming out of the junction with Car Dyke Road.
Some time ago I proposed the installation of a Give Way feature on Car Dyke Road just before drivers coming from the A10 reach the junction. This would slow down the traffic and I am sure that it would make life much safer for drivers coming out of Old Cambridge Road. I am sure there are other ideas that people have for improving safety in Waterbeach and I would welcome comments. If you are interested, the County Council publishes a Guide to improving the highway and it is well worth a read for those interested in what local communities can do.
Ever since I moved into Waterbeach over 40 years ago the problems of Chapel Street have been dicussed.
Some of you may remember that I was instrumental some years ago on getting improvements to be made in the area around the Village Sign. However, that was really only Stage 1.
A year or two ago, a plan was produced by the County Council to slow down traffic by installing two mini-roundabouts at the junction of Greenside and Cambridge Road and at the junction with Way Lane. These were rejected following public consultation.
I am keen to get improvements made, but they must be the right improvements. Do let me know what you think and, if elected, I shall work with the rest of the Parish Council and with our other local councillors to try to design a scheme that will improve the safety of our roads around the Green.
I’s good to know that there will be elections for Waterbeach Parish Council on May 22nd. There are 20 candidates for 15 places and I hope that many of you will go and cast your vote at the Salvation Army Hall or in Chittering.
I will try to tell everyone why I am standing for election on this blog and also hope to answer any questions you might have.
As someone who has lived in Waterbeach for over 40 years and has campaigned against the proposals for a new town on the barracks site for over ten years, it is not surprising that I am unhappy about the proposal to include this development in the South Cambridgeshire District Council local plan. I am intending to post some comments on this site with arguments as to why this is a misconceived idea. Keep a watch for further updates.